With hip new beer gardens on either end and two of the city’s best outdoor bars in-between, the High Line is one of the best places to walk and drink beer in New York City. This new, one-of-a-kind park, offers a zen-like paradise of trees and flowers, high above the noise and chaos of the city. It’s great people-watching, great beer, and a rare New York opportunity to stretch your legs without stoplights.
For 30 years, the High Line was an ugly, rusting, eyesore -- an abandoned elevated railway that ran along Manhattan’s West Side from 34th Street south to the Meatpacking District. It had been built in the 1930s to take dangerous freight trains off the streets. The elevated railway made it possible to carry trainloads of milk, meat and produce to warehouse loading docks that were built 30 feet above the busy streets below. But over the years, trucking became the main way of bringing in goods and use of the elevated railway declined. The last train to rumble down the overhead tracks was three carloads of frozen turkeys in 1980.
Abandoned, the rails were soon covered with wild weeds and flowers and urban renewal called for the whole crumbling line to be demolished. Enter the Friends of the High Line. Formed in 1999 by community residents, the group had the vision to imagine the High Line as a unique park. That dream was finally realized when the first section from 20th Street to Gansevoort Street opened in June 2009, followed by a second section that extended north to West 30th Street and opened in June 2011. Total cost: $153 million.
Today, the High Line is a thin, narrow ribbon of a park, 40 to 50 feet wide, with more than 200 species of grasses, flowers and trees that meanders for 1.5 miles through New York, 30-feet in the air.
Walking the High Line offers a unique view of the city. Unlike New York’s other elevated railways that ran directly above a street, the High Line was designed to run down the center of the block, going right smack through the middle of buildings. Along the way there are views of the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, as well of the trendy Meatpacking District, where you now look down on old warehouses are today filled with chic clubs and outdoor restaurants. But it’s the strange feeling of floating in a garden high above the city that makes the High Line such a trip. A few beers doesn’t hurt.
Grab your first one at the Lot at 30th, an outdoor beer garden built under the railway at 10th Ave. and West 30th. There’s a food truck roundup with a half dozen trucks selling tapas and tacos, while Colicchio & Sons has an outdoor bar with local NY beers and wines. Try the High Line Elevated Wheat from Brooklyn Brewery. There are big long tables to share your food and drink with local New Yorkers.Then climb three stories and get on the High Line as it makes a long slow curve heading south. A walk on the High Line is meant to be a slow stroll, taking time to enjoy nature. Bikes and rollerblades are forbidden. There are plenty of sleek wooden benches along the way for sitting and sunning and there’s even a section of lawns. At night (the park stays open until 11 p.m.) the walkways are illuminated, creating eerie scenes as they cut through, under and between modern buildings.
The northern section is the prettiest. Called the Chelsea Grasslands, it’s a meandering path through small fields of colorful flowers and grasses. Here and there, the outline of the original tracks have been left, or worked into the pattern of the pathway. The Diller- von Furstenberg Sundeck between 14th and 15th Streets has comfortable wood deckchairs and benches surrounded by wildflowers, fountains and sumac trees. It’s a perfect place to relax and people-watch, as a steady stream of New Yorkers stroll by.
The 10th Avenue Square has a small amphitheatre providing a unique view of busy Tenth Avenue below, while the Washington Grasslands between 12th and 13th preserves the native grasses and flowers that grew up between the abandoned rail lines and gives some idea of what it looked like before being turned into a park. At the southern end is the Gansevoort Woodland, a thicket of birch and serviceberry trees with vines that hang over the railing creating a green balcony for those below.
There’s plenty of food and drink on and below the High Line. The Porch at 15th is a hanging elevated outdoor bar with tables and umbrellas, just below the High Line, but still above the streets. They offer changing New York wines and beers, the current offerings written on a chalkboard. Try the Empire IPA from Syracuse if they have it.
There are stands selling gelato and coffee, ice cream sandwiches, and plaetas (ice pops) in flavors ranging from mango-chili to hibiscus to coconut.
You can hop down from the Highline at 16th and visit Chelsea Market, a two square block food market in an old 1890s bakery that once made Oreo cookies. Everything you could possibly imagine to eat is here, each with its own specialty shop. There are nuts and chocolates, bakeries, sandwiches, fresh fruit and even a lobster bar. It’s worth a visit.
The southern end of the High Line has natural vegetation.
At the far southern end at Gansevoort Street, again built under the Highline, is The Standard Biergarten, an authentic German biergarten with long outdoor wooden tables, pretzels, currywurst and German and Austrian beers such as Ayinger Weisse and Kostritzer Dark Bier. The location under the elevated railway gives it a cozy feel.
Hogs and Heifers
A block across the street is the legendary Hogs & Heifers. This is the classic rock ‘n roll dive bar that in 1992 started the tradition of scantily clad bartenders and patrons dancing on the bar, a routine now copied by Coyote Ugly and others. Decorating the walls are 11,000 bras donated by patrons, including one from Julia Roberts.
The Standard Hotel
A better peep show is back up on the High Line looking towards The Standard Hotel, a trendy highrise glass building that straddles the walkway. The hotel features floor to ceiling glass walls in all its rooms and even in the restrooms of the restaurant on the top floor. The hotel warns guests that the windows are very transparent and “activity in your room, when the curtains are open, may be visible from the outside.” I’ll say. You can see right into every room in a bizarre scene that resembles a set from the Alfred Hitchcock movie, “Rear Window.” The people in the rooms either don’t know, or don’t care. One guy, who looked like he’d been lingering on the High Line for days, told me, “there’s something happening in one of the windows every minute.” From the minute I spent there looking, I can believe him.
The Half King
One final bar worth a stop is the Half King, located just under the High Line at the 23rd Street stairway. This classic pub has more than 50 literary readings a year and is owned in part by writer Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm. Whether you stay inside by the candlelit tables in a maze of rooms, or sit on their streetside patio, one of the nicest outdoor bars in the city, this is a great pub with more than a dozen beers. Try a local Greenport Harbor Ale.
If you go:
There are numerous events along the High Line, from guided walks on Saturdays to stargazing with the Amateur Astronomy Association, every Tuesday. http://www.thehighline.org/
The High Line can only be accessed at Gansevoort Street, 14th Street (elevator access), 16th Street (elevator access), 18th Street and 20th Street, 23rd Street, 26th Street, 28th Street and 30th Street. Gansevoort is a only a few minutes walk from the all the pleasures of the West Village.
A recent study found that the average person walks 900 miles a year...and drinks 22 gallons of beer. That makes 41 miles of walking to the gallon -- not bad at all.
For people who love beer and travel and (wisely) don't want to drive, these articles explore how to get around by using public transportation, bikes and your own two feet...with great suggested pubs to stop at along the way.
We'll explore some of the best cities and countryside for walking, and provide suggestions on the best places to sit and enjoy a beer. And for those who prefer wine? Well, why not? We'll throw in an occasional wine bar or enoteca too.
Look through the Table of Contents below for wonderful places to Walk and Drink beer.
Top 10 Cities for Walking and Drinking Beer (with a little cheating for ties)
1. London -- there's a pub on nearly every corner offering cask-conditioned, hand-pulled ales and an endless variety of walks and parks
2. New York -- the greatest walking city on earth, and an Irish bar on nearly every corner
3. Paris -- and, yes you get it, a cafe on every corner. All cafes have a graduated payment system: drink at the bar instead of under the streetside umbrella for substantial savings
4. New Orleans -- miles of walks in the French Quarter, although not all of them are safe, and a very liberal policy that allows you to carry drinks on the street
5. San Francisco -- have to watch those hills, but with a little planning you can go up some of them by cable car, liberal policy about beer on the street at Fisherman's Wharf, a view in every direction
6. Denver - Seattle - Portland -- the three best cities for micro-brew beers all offer great downtowns surrounded by spectacular natural beauty
7. Boston - Philadelphia - Baltimore -- great historic districts, tall ships, brewpubs, old neighborhood bars, what's not to like?
8. Washington D.C. -- plenty of walks, but a little light on great pubs unless you head to Georgetown and even better, Old Town Alexandria
9. Nashville - Memphis - Austin -- the three best cities for live music have limited walks of interest, but there's enough going on in their entertainment districts to make up for it
10. Las Vegas -- well, they do have the world's most liberal beer policy, once you buy a beer you can take it with you wherever you want to go, in and out of casinos, on the streets, it's yours -- and there's plenty to see, but those sidewalks and traffic lights get old
Top 10 Train Rides of the World
The Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), the world’s largest organization of professional travel journalists and photographers, recently polled its members to come up with the “Top 10” most exciting and scenic train rides in the world.
SATW President Bea Broda states, “For many travelers, Edna St. Vincent Millay said it perfectly when she wrote: ‘My heart is warm with the friends I make, And better friends I'll not be knowing; Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take, No matter where it's going.’”
“Train travel,” according to Broda, “is romantic, scenic, a wonderful way to meet and mix with locals and equally important today, a very green way to experience a country.”
Listed in order of votes with comments from SATW writers are the world’s “Top 10” train rides: 1. The Rocky Mountaineer (www.rockymountaineer.com) offers spectacular two-day journeys through the Canadian Rocky Mountains from Vancouver to Banff or Jasper. “The Rocky Mountaineer is humbling travel – both for the monumental landscapes it slices through and the appreciation of the workers who risked – and sometimes gave – their lives to build it.” Betsa Marsh, freelance travel writer
2. The Glacier Express (www.glacierexpress.ch) is the famous Swiss mountain railway from St. Moritz to Zermatt, a 7.5 hour railway journey that crosses 291 bridges and burrows through 91 tunnels. “Take the Glacier Express in winter – you will pass by skiers, people playing golf in the snow and spectacular alpine settings.” James O’Reilly, publisher, Traveler’s Tales
3. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (www.durangotrain.com) winds through rugged canyons in the remote wilderness of Colorado’s two-million-acre San Juan National Forest. The narrow-gauge train is pulled by a coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive along the same tracks traveled over a century ago by miners, cowboys and settlers of the Old West.
4. The Bernina Express (www.rhb.ch) from Chur, Switzerland to Tirano, Italy, makes the highest rail crossing of the Alps, passing from icy glaciers to palm-shaded piazzas in just a few hours. It crosses 196 bridges and passes through 55 tunnels, while winding around countless spectacular switchbacks. You can take the scenic stretch from St. Moritz to Tirano for lunch in Italy in just three hours. “The Bernina Express takes your breath away before dropping you off in the marvelous little Italian village of Tirano,” Stan Wawer, travel writer
5. Peru Rail, Cusco to Machu Picchu (www.perurail.com), carries passengers on a spectacular journey through the high Andes. There are three levels of service, from backpacker trains to Vistadome cars to the luxurious blue and gold Hiram Bingham train, named in honor of Hiram Bingham, the explorer who discovered the Inca citadel in 1911. The train passes by lush green fields and colorful villages in the foothills of the Andes and climbs along the Urubamba River through a dramatic canyon before reaching Machu Picchu. “On the train from Cusco to the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu, it’s easy to feel you’re traveling into a mystery as you roll past secluded farms, squeeze between rugged mountains and, on my trip, become enveloped by low brooding dark clouds.” Susan Farlow, freelance travel writer
6. The Coastal Classic Train on the Alaska Railroad (www.akrr.com) winds through the wilderness between Anchorage and Seward. Massive glaciers are visible from the track as the train climbs into the Kenai Mountains and travels to the shores of Resurrection Bay for convenient connection to Kenai Fjords National Park, offering whale watching, sea kayaking, tidewater glacier viewing, fishing, and dog sled rides.
7. The Royal Scotsman (www.royalscotsman.com) rolls through the ever-changing landscapes of sweeping glens, towering peaks and mirror-calm lochs as the train weaves through wild countryside and along virgin stretches of coast on two to seven night journeys in the Scottish highlands. “Ancient castles. Misty moors. Stark cliffs, covered in black shadows from the clouds. Lochs. Chimneys sticking out of thatched roofs. And Rob Roy and Braveheart waiting beyond every turn.” Steve Winston, freelance travel writer
8. The Whistler Mountaineer (www.whistlermountaineer.com) in Canada is a three-hour ride along the magnificent coast of British Columbia, from Vancouver to Whistler, famous for its views of cities, old-growth forests, deep valleys, snowcapped peaks and seascapes. 9. Mexico’s El Chepe (www.chepe.com.mx) ventures into the imposing landscapes of the Sierra Tarahumara and into Mexico’s famed Copper Canyon, passing through 87 tunnels and crossing 37 bridges. The Copper Canyon is four times the size of the Grand Canyon – and deeper. “Mexico’s Chepe train from Los Mochis to Copper Canyon has it all: tall bridges crossing rivers, dozens of tunnels, a winding track that climbs high out of the canyon and, waiting for you at the end, the fascinating indigenous Tarahumara people.” Eric Lindberg, freelance travel writer/photographer
10. The Flam Railway (www.norwaynutshell.com) is regarded as one of the highlights of the “Norway in a Nutshell” tour. The 20-km-long train journey from the mountain station of Myrdal down to Flam, beside a fjord, takes 55 minutes. On the journey, you have views of some of the most magnificent mountain scenery in Norway with a panorama of tall mountains and cascading waterfalls. The train moves slowly or stops at the best views. “The Norway in a Nutshell ride fulfills its clever name, and stopping to let passengers take pictures is a real plus.” Bob Jenkins, freelance travel writer The Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) is a non-profit professional association that works to promote responsible travel journalism and to provide professional support for its members, including travel journalists, photographers, editors, electronic media, film lecturers, television and film producers, and public relations representatives from the travel industry. For more information on the Society of American Travel Writers, visit as http://www.satw.org/TopTen
I never took a ferry I didn’t like. A cruise is just sailing around in circles…but when you’re on a ferry, you’re going somewhere. Usually you’re traveling with locals rather than tourists – and you’re doing it at bargain rates – sometimes even free.
I’ve hopped a ferry in Bangkok on the Chao Phraya River with a dozen monks in orange robes; one of them was drinking a beer. My brother and I took one ferry after another in Istanbul, not carrying where they went. Of course, eventually we got stuck and had to take a bus back to town, but it was worth it to drink 15 cent Turkish tea on the top deck, sailing back and forth between Asia and Europe.
My niece works for Eurostar and the Chunnel is great, I suppose, but I feel sorry for anyone who will never take a ferry across the English Channel and see the White Cliffs of Dover from the sea. I’ve sailed ferries through the British Virgin Islands, from Tortola to Virgin Gorda for just a couple of bucks, and hung out at the dock on Harbour Island, the Bahamas, waiting for ferry to arrive – the big event of the day.
Ferries offer a glimpse of history. I’ve taken White’s Ferry across the Potomac where Lee crossed when he marched to Antietam, and crossed the Mississippi at Ste. Genevieve, St. Francisville and Algiers…places Mark Twain would have known.
And the boats? Well, nothing can top the black, barracuda-like Vaporetto that ferries the canals of Venice, or the little one-car ferry we took in the Blue Mountains of Australia, or crossing 26-hours from Puerto Vallarta to Cabo San Lucas in a boat full of chickens and roosters.
The Society of American Travel Writers – the largest organization of professional travel writers and photographers – recently polled their members to come up with the best scenic ferry rides in the world. Here are their choices with comments from some of the members.
“A ride aboard Hong Kong's Star Ferry is crammed with views and people to create the cheapest multi-cultural, multi-sensory cruise experience in the world.” Chris McBeath, guide book author and freelance travel writer
“Crossing San Francisco Bay on a sunny afternoon, with Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge to the right, the Berkeley Hills to the left, and that glorious San Francisco skyline looming ahead; all that's missing is a bar of Ghirardelli Chocolate and a warm loaf of sourdough bread.” Eric Lindberg - freelance travel writer/photographer
“The Staten Island Ferry is not new, squeaky clean, or super fast but it is iconic, and even with the World Trade Centers gone the view it offers of Manhattan is superb--and you get to see it all with local New Yorkers, not just tourists.” Christine Loomis, travel writer/editor
“The British Columbia Ferry System is a world apart, with tents set up on deck and people from all parts talking and comparing world travel experiences. And you can't beat the beauty all around you.” Roger Toll, freelance travel writer
“The half hour public ferry ride from Sydney's Circular Quay, close to the harbor bridge and opera house, through the national park's superb scenery to the ocean-side suburb of Manly is a superb experience, and at a cost of AU $6.40, one of Australia's many bargains.” Michael Algar, travel writer and photographer
“The Alaska State Ferry system's ‘blue canoes’ allow overnight passengers to pitch their tents on deck - surely one of the world's most unusual camping experiences.” Janet Fullwood, independent journalist
“The ferry ride from Flam to Gudvangen is the best way to see Norway's magnificent fjords. Barbara Ramsay Orr, freelance travel writer and photographer
10. Ferry from Mallaig to Isle of Skye, Scotland http://www.calmac.co.uk/ “Skye is one of the most mysterious and beautiful islands in the world, and its emergence from the mists, shaped like a bird in flight, never fails to lift the heart.” Marilyn Green, travel writer
"Sometimes when I reflect back on all the wine I drink I feel shame. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the vineyards and all of their hopes and dreams If I didn't drink this wine, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, "It is better that I drink this wine and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver." Jack Handy
"I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day. " Frank Sinatra
"When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading." Henny Youngman
"When we drink, we sometimes get drunk. When we get drunk, we fall asleep. When we fall asleep, we commit no sin. When we commit no sin, we go to heaven. So, let's all get drunk and go to heaven!" Brian O'Rourke
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." Benjamin Franklin
"24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence? I think not." Stephen Wright
"Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza." Dave Barry
******* “It takes only one drink to get me drunk. The trouble is, I can't remember if it's the thirteenth or the fourteenth.” George Burns
******* “Always remember that I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.” Winston Churchill